Any kind of abuse is wrong. “The abuse of older adults – of our grandparents, neighbours, aunts, uncles or older friends – is something people rarely think about, or speak about,” says Martha Jane Lewis, BC’s Council to Reduce Elder Abuse (CREA) Chair and Executive Director of the BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support, “but each year thousands of older British Columbians experience some form of abuse. We receive hundreds of calls every month at the Seniors Abuse and Information Line (1 866 437-1940) from people seeking help,” she says.
Barb MacLean, Executive Director of the Family Caregivers of BC (FCBC) and CREA member agrees. “Some older adults may rely on others to help them with their day-to-day needs, which can lead to situations of abuse. They may be over-medicated, or under-medicated, kept socially isolated, denied access to visitors or friends, or they may be victims of neglect.” Studies show that seniors are most at risk of suffering violence at the hands of a family member or a caregiver.
“As the population ages,” notes Superintendent Mark Fisher, RCMP Officer in Charge and CREA member, “there will be a greater proportion of seniors in our province at risk of elder abuse.”
“There are different kinds of abuse and neglect,” says Supt. Mark Fisher. Some signs of elder abuse may include: changes in behaviour, depression or agitation (psychological abuse); changes to consumer and banking habits, or to legal documents (financial abuse); bruises or injuries in various stages of healing (physical abuse); inappropriate clothing, being over or under-medicated, or poor personal hygiene (neglect).
Sheila Pither, a Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations (COSCO) representative and CREA member notes “One of the ways you can help prevent abuse is to call or visit your parents, and older relatives or friends. We always mean to keep in touch, but time passes and we aren’t there to recognize the signs that an important older person in our life is being abused.”
To find out more, or if someone you know is being abused, call the Seniors Abuse and Information Line (SAIL) 1 866 437-1940, toll-free, from anywhere in the province, from 8 am to 8 pm daily, excluding statutory holidays, or in Vancouver: 604 437-1940. SAIL is operated by the BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support. Learn more.
If there is imminent danger and you think the situation is an emergency, please call 9-1-1.